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The Cal Poly men’s basketball team saw its 16-game home winning streak in Big West play come to an end in a 63-62 loss to Long Beach State on Saturday. Cal Poly now finds itself in second place in the conference, behind only UC Irvine.
The game came down to the wire with senior guard Jamal Johnson’s shot rimming out as the final buzzer sounded.
“It felt good,” Johnson said. “It looked on track. Sometimes you have them go in, sometimes they go out. I guess it was one of those days it goes out.”
Cal Poly (7-10, 3-1 Big West) rode a 16-game home win streak in conference play and had won 17 of its previous 18 games overall in Mott Athletics Center before the loss.
But the Mustangs didn’t go down without a fight.
With Cal Poly trailing by one, Long Beach State’s Mike Caffey missed a free throw with five seconds left on the clock. The ball landed in Johnson’s hands.
“I looked for a couple open teammates,” Johnson said. “It scrambled out, the shot opened up, and I took my shot. I’m going to hit the next one. If it comes my way and I’m blessed with the opportunity to take the next shot, I’m going to hit it.”
Cal Poly jumped out to a 19-9 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half. However, the 49ers fought back into the game with a 17-0 run near the end of the period.
Long Beach State outrebounded the Mustangs 41-28, which head coach Joe Callero attributed to his team’s struggles throughout the remainder of the game.
“We gave up 18 offensive boards,” Callero said. “You can’t just give a team six or seven extra possessions. It’s such a momentum builder for them.”
In the second half, the pace slowed and the 49ers established a presence in the paint.
The game began to slip away from the Mustangs late, though. They found themselves down 10 with two minutes remaining in regulation.
However, Cal Poly fought back to bring the game within five with one minute to go. The Mustangs deployed a high press with just seconds left, forcing a five second in bound violation which gave the Mustangs the ball.
On their next possession, Cal Poly’s catalyst, senior forward Chris Eversley, delivered with a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to pull his team within one point, and the near-full capacity crowd erupted.
“Tonight was the loudest I’ve heard it in a long time,” Eversley said. “It was great. The atmosphere was great. That’s the type of crowd we want all of the time.”
But the run was short lived as time expired, leaving Cal Poly on the wrong side of the decision.
The Mustangs will look to get back on track when they travel to Cal State Fullerton on Thursday and UC Riverside for a Saturday night contest.
“This is just one loss,” Johnson said. “We have a long road ahead of us.”